What the editorials said
When Isis captured Mosul in the summer of 2014, along with much of Iraq and Syria, it was able to present itself “as the world’s most successful terror group”, said The Times. If the attack on Mosul is successful, it will lose much of “its fearsome allure”. The assault has been two years in the making, because the Iraqi army had to be rebuilt: 30,000 troops and police fled from Mosul in the face of barely 1,300 jihadis. The army has now been trained by US instructors. Together with the Kurdish peshmerga and Shia militias, “they appear to be a serious military coalition”. There are, however, “many pitfalls” ahead, said the FT. The battle could be “long and gruelling”; aid groups are braced for civilian casualties and a refugee crisis. Iraq’s government needs to show that it can police reclaimed territory without “further inflaming sectarian tensions”. Its record is “terrible”. Iranian-backed Shia militias accompanying the Iraqi army on earlier offensives have treated Sunnis who have lived behind Daesh lines “as fifth columnists”, and have committed many atrocities. The government must “keep the militias out”.